AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Some animal rescue groups in Amarillo are worried a new euthanasia protocol at the city shelter will stop them from rescuing dogs before it's too late.
Previously when the list of dogs up for euthanasia was posted by Amarillo Animal Management & Welfare (AAM&W) every few days, rescues had about 5 days get those dogs out of the shelter before they were put down.
Now, under a new standard operating protocol set forth by AAM&W, rescues only have about 2 days, and many say that's not enough time.
This protocol gives the Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society the task of selecting 85% of the shelter's most adoptable animals to be spared from the kill list.
"That remaining 15% is still eligible to be pulled by rescues," said Richard Havens, Director of AAM&W. "If the rescues are unable to secure them, AAM&W will make disposition on the animal based on any number of factors: current intake levels, the animal's health, the behavior."
Earlier this week, animal rescue groups like the Texas Panhandle Pet Savers worked to save a group of dogs from being put down at the shelter.
They were able to rescue about half, saying it was the shortened time window to save the animals - from 5 to 2 days - that cost the rest of the group their lives.
"There were still 9 dogs that we couldn't save that had we had another day or 2 we definitely could have saved them and got them out of the shelter easy," said Jerrie Coffey, volunteer with the Texas Panhandle Pet Savers. "They're just trying to move the dogs, have a faster turnaround time and get them out. But it's really making it hard. We still want to save the lives."
This smaller time frame is also affecting out-of-state rescues.
"They're not happy because it totally counts them out of the picture," said Coffey. "They're not here. They don't have any place [to go] or anybody to help them get the dogs out or to stay at their house, you know we need temporary fosters [while they travel to get the dogs]."
The Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society said the new protocol puts pressure on them to move faster, but does not really change the way they operate, and suggested the rescue groups change their strategies.
"It is hurting the rescues a little bit, but what rescues should be doing and what they should have been doing all along is if they see something they want they should be tagging it and planning on transporting and getting them out before they ever get on the euthanasia list," said Jena McFall, Executive Director of the Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society.
Havens said since so many more animals are coming into the shelter than are leaving it, they have to do something to stop the shelter from constantly overflowing.
Right now shelter staff are having to turn down owner surrenders because of overcrowding, and Havens said dogs they cannot take end up getting dumped somewhere in the city or county.
"Please bear with us," said Havens. "This community is going through some growing pains in coming around with the animal welfare movement. But we do greatly appreciate everything that [the rescues] have done for this community and will continue to do for the community."